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A Return to…the Joyfulness of Writing!

After a more than three-year hiatus, I am going to begin writing my blog again…hopefully, with a broader audience and a wider appeal factor. I’d like to put my reasons for stopping…in my rear-view mirror. But first…I’d like to begin this renewed effort at social media communication with a book review from May 17, 2015, written by Erin Speakman, a fellow writer and dear friend. The book? “Glimpses Into the Life”, my first published work.

“I recently had the pleasure of picking up a rare gem of a book, and couldn’t put it down again until I’d finished. Moby Dick could wait. Crime and Punishment could wait. The authorized biography of Mother Teresa could wait. (I’m a slow reader, usually breaking often, and usually too ADHD to stick to one book at a time.) Glimpses Into The Life by Dorian Scott Wilson grabbed me and held me till the end. It’s a fast read, with its constituent autobiographical parts coming at you like potato chips, or Wheat Thins, or some other salty snack whose savoriness and perfect bite-size won’t let you quit—you finish one excellent anecdote, maybe there’s some errand you need to get to, or some shuteye you should grab, but you say to yourself, no: I want another. Wilson is an Everyman, a personified slice of Americana, with all the heroics and failures of any of us, and he shares himself with enormously unflinching, sometimes unapologetic honesty. In Glimpses Into The Life, we’re taken along on one man’s life journey. We glimpse the seedy black market of Seoul, South Korea with its “happy smoke” and darkened nightclubs. We float on a lake and set a hook with a loving father. We tag along on one hair-raising, fiery day on security beat at a psychiatric hospital. We dodge a knife-wielding would-be assailant at a bus stop on the gritty streets of Detroit, and sit in on crack-fogged chess games. By the end, you know one of your neighbors. It’s as simple and pure and important as that. You’ve kicked back a Budweiser with him. “I thank God for giving me the talent to write,” says Wilson in the acknowledgements. I’m thankful, too.”
—EJ Speakman

Thanks again, Erin. I excitedly await your novel!

So…needless to say, much has changed since 2014. The face of Detroit government…the face of Detroit itself! There are things going on that I couldn’t have imagined, even three years ago. Entrepreneurial cultivation. Urban farms. Genuine outreach and community involvement. Grants! Programs of every stripe. The QLine (however you feel about it) is running. New construction in Indian Village! Playscape planning, demolitions, renewals in neighborhoods across the city…DWSD (Detroit Water and Sewerage Department) stormwater mitigation projects and community gardens and continuing expansion and enhancement of the Dequindre Cut. There’s a lot goin’ on here, y’all!

I intend to be a part of it. And I intend for you to be a part of it. Join me. Participate in Detroit’s resurgence, rebuilding, re-defining. I’d like to write about it…right here.

Look for more.

 

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The Way Forward: A New Mayor and City Council

Unrelated and, as a sidebar…I’d like to give my heartfelt thanks, and admiration, to those people, young and older, who serve in our armed forces–Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines–under conditions that we can only dream about or watch on the news (or, somewhat glamorized, in movies). We send our best and brightest, our youngest and most impressionable, our treasure…to do the bidding of this country, under the various guises of “National Security”. You have my undying admiration and thanks. My son was one of these soldiers, a Marine, and I thank God that he is here with me. I pray for every family who’ve sacrificed their children for the “big picture” ideology of U.S. global interdiction, assistance, conquest, or protection (critics, take your pick). Though I can’t possibly fathom your losses, I offer my prayers for comfort.

Back to current events. So, here we are, in Detroit. Emergency management, even as we allowed our elections to occur. We did it. And I would like to personally thank everyone who went out in August 2013 and November 2013, and cast their vote. Absentee votes, on-site votes,  all of you–thank you. You participated in the process, and I want you to know, and believe, that your votes counted.

We elected, for the first time in, like, 100 years, council-by-districts.  First time in any of our lifetimes, so it’s brand new. We have a group of people who are going to be…beholden, for want of a better word…to the people in the neighborhoods who elected them. They are going to have to get “boots on the ground” in their districts, and they’re going to have to be responsible, and responsive, to the people in those districts who elected them.

I believe in the voting process; I believe that, if you don’t vote, you have no business complaining about the outcome. I also believe that, if you did vote, and it didn’t go your way, then you have to accept what has come to pass. Now, here in Detroit, we’ve had skullduggery play its hand in elections. I am acutely and painfully aware of that. I still believe that the late Jackie Currie manipulated the election returns to award Kwame Kilpatrick with his second term…his second term during which he perfected the looting of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. So now, here in present-day Detroit, we have more of the same. We have Tom Barrow claiming that there were illegal doings in his run against Dave Bing in their last election square-off. We have council contenders contending the same. The challenges have been vetted, and investigated, and, frankly, some are never going to be satisfied with the conclusions. So…what do we do? Do we spend millions on a do-over? Here’s my take on it…

Let us move forward with what we have. If…if Janice Winfrey did not do her due diligence, and did not perform her duties to the best of her ability…if she was unable to oversee the alleged malfeasance of her staffers…if she was unable to overcome her own alleged incompetence…how do we sort that out? Do we get bogged down in recriminations? Do we poke out the eyes of everyone, and end up all blind? Or do we accept the outcome, and, in our alleged desire for justice, work within the framework that democracy has presented us?

I’m not, at this point, taking sides; I, as any other voter, have my personal opinion.

With regard to the recent council presidency election: Something happened. Brenda Jones convinced the new council members that, in voting for her presidency, there was some benefit, or some positive. I know, and have heard ad nauseum, the reasons why Brenda Jones should not have been elected council president. And again, in keeping with the democratic process, I am accepting of this decision.

Where we go, now, from here, is what we should be concerned with.

Politics in Detroit appear to govern all decisions, and positions, and outcomes. There are those who will say that this is “more of the same”.  It is my sincere hope, however, that…we will see a new day in Detroit politics. It is my sincere hope that we will, finally, see a return to “civil service”. Because I swear on all that I know and cherish…my mother has been an unwilling passenger on the train of idiocy that we have ridden for the last two or three decades. Certainly…the very reason that we are under emergency management in the first place…is that our elected officials did not do their jobs. Let’s start there, without bringing up all the excuses.

Next blog post: We must eschew the “status quo”.

New Website, New Year, New Possibilities!

As 2014 begins, not only have I published my first book (“Glimpses Into the Life”, available at justwritepublishers.com and dorianwilson.com), but thanks to some very competent people at Just Write Publishers, I also have my own website (having had the foresight to purchase the domain matching my name–thanks, Louise Bannerman!). This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for me, and I’m excited about projects planned and projects under way. 2014 looks to be a banner year in my writing life, and I’m building a network of like-minded people, supporters, comrades and confidants.

So today, on Monday, January 6, 2014, we are contending with a considerable snowfall here in Detroit, and dangerously plunging temperatures. I had to perform a major excavation this morning, just to get my car out of the snowdrift; I trust many others had to do the same. I had to be here, though; critical meetings, customer advocacy and all that. I truly envy those who were able to stay home today, or work from home. I think that’s my dream job: To work from home. To get up and, without changing out of my pajamas, sit down at my PC or typewriter (really been thinking about one of those, lately) and go to work! Writing is indeed my passion, and after all…it wouldn’t really be “work”, because I’d enjoy it! I’d just have to develop ways to make it possible to sustain my austere lifestyle…just by writing! That’s my five-year plan.

I welcome advice, input, criticism and/or compliment with regard to this blog. Though I spend nearly all hours at work writing in some form or another, and several hours more after work, writing at home…it’s an added challenge to write interesting and compelling stories on a consistent (if not daily) basis. Therein lies the challenge, then…and that’s where others find success. I’d like to tap into that success. I don’t want to limit my subject matter out of fear of reprisal (after all, I am a public servant); I wholeheartedly believe in the freedom of speech…and since my blog’s subtitle is ” Living, Working, and Caring About Detroit!”, if it’s about Detroit–whether political, community-related, commerce or news-related…I want to be able to comment. I want to develop a readership that’s genuinely interested in what I have to write about. And I’d also like to see my work published in a larger, more widespread forum. This, too, is one of my goals for 2014.

Next blog entry: I’d like to take a closer look at our local legislative group: Detroit City Council. A new term has just begun, council-by-district for the first time in about 100 years is being tested, and the council itself has just elected a new president and president pro-tem. I have opinions, and I hope to share them with you. 

Living in Detroit: The Challenge of Faith

"This is where it's going to happen."

Now that the ritual celebratory gunfire has died down, Detroit makes its way into 2014–and into a brave, new world. Not for the faint of heart, this next-phase Detroit is going to be all about undoing a big knot of inefficiency, archaic work practices, fiscal ignorance, managerial blindness and rampant malfeasance. It’s going to take a lot of dedicated (and re-dedicated) people to get this train back on the tracks and reestablish some degree of forward motion. Those of us with a vested interest, and a commitment, understand that it won’t happen overnight; after all, this mess was decades in the making.

Mike Duggan has been sworn in as Detroit’s 75th mayor (77th, if you count Solomon Sibley and Elijah Brush, who served under Detroit’s original charter of 1806). A turnaround expert and former member of the Wayne County political machine, he ran on the strength of that expertise and, overcoming numerous (and often specious) challenges, convinced enough of us voting Detroiters to give him a shot at the title.  He succeeds a Dave Bing administration which can best be summed up by one word: Hapless.

That is not meant to place the full blame on one man, Dave Bing; he had no shortage of assistance in the ineffectiveness of his tenure.  Saddled with an intransigent City Council, among whose members were some of the most divisive, self-serving people in Detroit’s history, Mayor Bing was given a slingshot and tasked with felling Goliath. Not surprisingly, he mostly failed, while showering us with feel-good initiatives (“I’m a Detroiter”) that really did nothing to address the core problems of this city. He shuffled his executive management team like the best Vegas dealer, vainly searching for the right mix of department heads, leaders, and allies. He made some missteps, but his feet were often guided more by a shifting dance floor than his own wishes. When you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.

Our City Council bears a far larger burden of, and blame for, Detroit’s intractability than they’ve been assessed. Designed as the legislative counterpart to Bing’s administrative entity, they were, by and large, fractured and selfish and narrow-focused. Many council members pandered shamelessly to a small group of die-hard constituents, of their own choosing, without realizing the vastness and diversity (and changing diversity) of Detroit’s population. They enjoyed a $70,000-plus salary, with benefits and perks and $700,000 budgets…to do the work of us, the people. To do things to make our lives–all our lives–better. We held them to the higher standard that the position of council member demands, and…they let us down. The transgressions of the past administration do not bear repeating here; they are extensively documented, and constantly debated. So many City Council members, over the last three decades, have succumbed to graft and bribery and skulduggery that, in the aggregate…an honest person became the exception, and not the rule.

So…where do we go from here? UP, I say. Though some council members were not my choice, we’re stuck with them for four years, now. And I say: Let’s make the best of it. I say, let’s throw our collective weight and support behind the new mayor, Mike Duggan. Yes, we’re under emergency management. But that will end, and we’ll be on our own. And I’ll say this for those who didn’t get the memo: We are in an emergency. It’s not about takeaways or giveaways or theft of jewels or any of that…it’s about city services, and making them WORK for those of us who pay our taxes. It’s about streamlining, and increased efficiency, in a city where some departments are still using carbon paper to make forms in triplicate. It’s about NOT buying multi-million dollar operating systems that don’t work…and holding accountable those who knowingly do these things. It’s about eliminating the “siloed” mentality, and bridging the gaps in communication between city departments, and eliminating the “fiefdoms”, and delivering what we are supposed to: City services.

I want to see improvement–not the status quo. And you have my personal assurance that, as an employee of a city department, I AM doing my part.

Christmas Day, 2013

It is Christmas Day, 2013. Merry Christmas to all my family, friends, acquaintances and business associates, my coworkers, my distant friends and everyone who may be in reading distance of this post.

As the end of the year comes racing towards us, many people find themselves in a reflective mood. I know I do. I had a list, created earlier this year, of the goals I sought to accomplish in 2013. I would like to share that list now, its successes and shortcomings, its victories, its missed opportunities.

1. Filing of bankruptcy. Once I got past the stigma and embarrassment, once I realized that this is something that, not only individuals do, but small businesses to large corporations do to protect and recover their financial solvency and future…I accomplished this. And it has truly allowed me to get back on track. Peace of mind and future responsibility, business plans and life in comfort, have all returned because of this bankruptcy filing. I personally thank the law offices of Walter Metzen for their diligent and thorough handling of my case, and would recommend them to anyone who finds themselves in need of relief in this difficult and unforgiving economy.

2. Completion of my first book, “Glimpses Into the Life”. The book was a catharsis of sorts; I found, in the re-telling and re-visiting of these stories, some real closure. I completed the book in October, and found a publisher, and we designed the covers and layout. My first book has been published, in 2013, and will be available at multiple outlets and in multiple formats early next year. I am proud and excited, and anxious to share my stories with the world. Others will follow in 2014.

3. Professional certifications (Technical Writer, Stormwater Manager). I did not accomplish these goals in 2013. Financial constraints, time constraints, and concentration on other goals made these difficult to complete. In the course of my full-time occupation, I’ve written numerous reports, research and analysis papers, and led a Stormwater Team in customer advocacy and account management. I have deferred these goals to 2014, and will accomplish them for the sake of my professional development and certification as an expert.

4. Completion of my second book, “Year of Epiphany”, a work of fiction. My intent was to write a twelve-chapter book (one chapter for each “year”), and I’ve completed chapter nine, as I write this post. Three chapters from completion, and I may yet accomplish this goal by year’s end. It will certainly publish in 2014. I’m excited and motivated about this book, as well. 

5. Automobile purchase. After spending over a year without a car, optimistically relying on the convenience and low cost of public transportation, I reached the end of my patience with DDOT. I bought a minivan in October, and eschewed my reliance on the undependable Detroit bus system. A positive side-effect has been a heightened reliability, as concerns my 77 year-old mother and her travel plans and desires. This was a positive outcome for 2013.

6. The “DorianWrites” business plan. This was a fluid and constantly-evolving goal, and one which continues to come into focus. I envisioned a business of writing–requests for proposals, articles, technical papers, white papers, resumes and cover letters…as well as books. This plan will most certainly carry over into 2014, as I more clearly define the requirements for enacting the legal and licensing necessities, the equipment needs, and the networking/advertising/website/time management planning. I look forward to bringing these things into sharp focus, and true action, in 2014.

2013 also brought some personal disappointments. A relationship, into which I put a considerable amount of effort and time and emotion, went sideways. In retrospect, I can see that it was not meant to be; I truly believe that God places us where we are supposed to be, and, transcending our purported wisdom and understanding, places us exactly where we should be, and inserts or removes the people from our lives, according to His plan for us. I thank God for His interventions, lessons, and disappointments. 

Most disappointments of 2013 have entailed my interactions with people who, for whatever reasons, do not share my work ethic and customer service standards. These things have been easy to reconcile; I have often reverted to the understanding that there are some things I can change, and some things I cannot. It has been my learning experience to recognize the difference, and to operate within those constraints. I pray for continued, and increased, wisdom in this area for 2014.

My next post will deal with the difficult-but-not-impossible task of living in Detroit, and loving it, and continuing to navigate the logic-defying environments found here. 

Aside

Living Amidst the Violence of Detroit

Once again, for the cheap seats, and every Mike Corey and Ed Rankin out there who seem to have the solution (by way of broad-brush criticism) for all of Detroit’s ills:

WE…have lived this story for years. For decades, some. Our law-abiding mothers, grandmothers, and aunts and uncles, and cousins and friends, have lived in this city and watched it turn into a post-apocalyptic jungle of survival. Could we move our mothers and loved ones out of this place? Some did, and continue to. Some cannot. Some of our loved ones are so endeared to the houses they first bought…or the houses they grew up in…or the churches they’re committed to. The reasons for staying are as varied as the reasons for leaving. And the cheerleaders for staying are equally as variegated as are the ones for leaving–like the thoughtless persons I mentioned by name before– who don’t even live here but opine with a sense of self-righteousness and a false understanding of what the terrain is like.

I will say this: I wholeheartedly support and advocate for a legally-armed citizenry. And I also realize that the police will not be there…when things happen…and perhaps will not even come AFTER it happens. We have to live with that. This is what we live with. Here then, is my warning, my admonition to those who would seek to hurt who I love, or steal what I have:

I am perfectly willing to be judged by twelve…than to be carried by six. And I’d rather be a killer…than a victim. You b@stards get in my crosshairs, and there’s no gettin’ out. I’m one…who doesn’t CARE whether the cops come or not. ‘Cause I won’t need ’em. YOU will.

The Charles Pugh Matter…

Okay…my two cents.

Charles Pugh, not to be missed in governing the City of Detroit, now has a bigger problem with these allegations. Not being a lawyer or legal expert myself, and having weighed all “evidence” thus far…I find this mother’s course of action specious at best. Picture her with “cash register eyes”. An easy, instant payday. Why should we expect this lawyer, Land, to be any more scrupulous than the hundreds of lawyers before him who filed lawsuits against the City of Detroit, or any entity thereof. Because the city has an apparent policy of settling. How many cases, in the last two or three years, have gone to trial? Funny we haven’t heard from this alleged “victim”. 18 now, a legal adult…being guided by his mother and this lawyer. I am no fan of Charles Pugh; I think he ran on a platform of “native son raised by a single mother who died too early, yes I’m gay but it won’t color my administrative duty”. And, as time went on, he showed himself to be narcissistic, entitled, and far above those who looked to him for help: The citizenry. I think he (among almost all others on council) let us down. So…
His political career…and broadcast career…are both over. That’s a safe speculation. Whatever is left for him to do…is strictly between him and his Maker. If these allegations are true? Shame on him for allowing his personal desires to usurp the trust placed in him by many. If these allegations are false? Shame on this mother for seeking an easy payday at the expense of one who tried to help her disadvantaged son.

This is just one guy talking here, though. I don’t purport to have all the answers…or even the insight. I just opine.